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Read to Travel

So here is the thing, I like to read AND I like to travel. And it is a sweet spot when both things happen at the same time (meaning, sometimes I pick where I travel based on a book I read or sometimes I read books based on places that I have traveled to or will travel to). If you love to read and love to travel, this series of posts is for you. I'll be sharing my top six destinations that hit the sweet spot of good books and great location, where the place has as much personality as the characters in the books. Granted, due to my being a little long-winded, it might take a few posts to get through all my favorites… 

6. Hannibal, Missouri, USA

I will confess, the first time that I went to Hannibal .…I didn’t choose to go. I was nine and my mother made the decision for a family vacation. So we went. But I liked it so much that I went two more times - that is saying something, right?

Basically this is the literary travel spot for all things Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens). Think TOM SAWYER and HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Think of all the cave spelunking and riverboat rides. In Hannibal you can tour the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum Properties. I loved looking at the white picket fence and thinking about how Tom tricked everyone else into white-washing it for him. When I was in Hannibal (many years ago) I also toured around other museums and saw where “Becky Thatcher” would have “lived."

8.6 tom sawyer statue

There is something to be said for skipping rocks and having a picnic next to the mighty Mississippi River, the very river that Huck Finn and Jim sailed down on a raft. In fact, there are a lot of places in Hannibal where you can just sit and watch that river. And possibly contemplate all of those many big things that Mark Twain leads you to think about when reading Huckleberry Finn. 

8.6 Mark Twain Cave with Joella

But the highlight for this area is the Mark Twain Cave Complex. There you can explore where Becky and Tom got lost. And if you happen to have an older brother the way that I do—perhaps you might jump every now and again due to said older brother’s shenanigans. Seriously. There's nothing quite like going inside just after reading the scary chapters about Tom and Becky being lost in that same cave (the very one!) and then having your brother do his best to scare the heebeegeebees out of you. Literature definitely came alive for me in that moment!

8.6 Mark Twain Cave

And with festivals and theater performances giving nods to all things Mark Twain, this is a travel destination totally connected to all things literary. 

Bonus: There is also a movie and a graphic novel adaptation of Tom Sawyer and not one but two different graphic novel adaptations for Huckleberry Finn. 

8.6 Tom Sawyer TwainTHE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
By Mark Twain
(1876)

 

Tom Sawyer FilmTOM SAWYER
(1986) 

 

8.6 Tom Sawyer HallTHE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER: A GRAPHIC NOVEL
By Margaret Hall
(2014)

 

Huckleberry Finn TwainADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
By Mark Twain
(1884)

 

8.6 Huckleberry Finn RatliffTHE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
By Tom Ratliff
(2008 

 

8.6 Huckleberry Finn SilvermoonADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
By Crystal Silvermoon
(2017)

 
Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for other literary vacation destinations that I have loved!   

A 12-ish year old boy came up to the desk with full purpose and asked my coworker- “What is your favorite book?”

I was busy helping another patron and I didn’t hear much about that conversation besides that and didn’t expect him to return because he got his answer.

A couple minutes later he came back to the desk in full stride and full purpose again, stood before me and asked, “what’s your favorite book” like it was a grand request and pronouncement.

This isn’t a difficult question but not really one I get often, at least not so directly. People usually ask for suggestions or books like: Diary of a Wimpy Kid/Harry Potter/Percy Jackson. My mind went blank and all I could suddenly think of were princess/fairy tale retellings which felt way too girly to suggest to this young teen boy.

I did pull out “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman because that is one of my standard go-to’s but seriously- my mind blanked outside Ella Enchanted and Beauty. I told him this and he said he didn’t mind, he just wanted to get a variety. He went home with a stack of Louis L’Amour, Boy by Roald Dahl, The Graveyard Book and Goose Girl. It was a great stack but I’m annoyed at my brain for shutting off when he asked me a simple question.

And in typical Amanda-fashion, as soon as he left my brain flooded with ideas of books I could have suggested. I really wished I could have found him again so I could tell him my actual suggestions.

So here is a list of my *favorites I should have suggested- that I haven’t already written about already.

*Listing a favorite book is subjective. I have the right to change this opinion at will and am catering more to age of patron asking.

8.3 The Indian in the CupboardTHE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD
By Lynne Reid Banks
(1980)

On Omri’s birthday his best friend gives him a little plastic Indian toy. Disappointed, he puts the toy in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that belonged to his great-grandmother. He finds out when he turns the key it transforms the toy into a real live man from a different time and place. I read this book a few times as a kid and loved the adventure and friendship between this boy and his little friends.

 

8.3 HolesHOLES
By Loius Sachar
(1998)

Stanley Yelnats is under a curse- a curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has followed the Yelnats family. Stanley is unjustly sent to a boys’ detention camp where they are required to dig holes all day long- five feed wide, five feet deep. Stanley realizes they aren’t just building character- that the Warden is looking for something as a mystery of the past unfolds before these campers. This was a really fun intriguing mystery. I love seeing how the past intertwined with the present and the “ah-ha” moments when they came together.

 

8.3 SurvivorsSURVIVORS: EXTRAORDINARY TALES FROM THE WILD AND BEYOND
by David Long
(2017)

This is a fantastic collection of 23 true stories of men and women who have survived seemingly impossible circumstances from a plane crash to quicksand. The stories are fascinating and the illustrations are fantastic. I would like to own this for my own book collection and give it to everyone. 

 

8.3 A Monster CallsA MONSTER CALLS
By Patrick Ness
(2011)

Twelve-year-old Connor O’Malley is dealing with a lot. A school bully, an estranged father, strict grandmother and a sick mother. One night at 12:07 am, a tree-like Monster comes to his window and tells Connor it is going to tell three stories over three nights- three truths and on the fourth night Connor had to tell the monster his truth. I love this book. It is beautiful and sad. If you read this I highly highly suggest getting the illustrated copy. It really adds to the story and is illustrated by Jim Kay, who is illustrating the Harry Potter series.

 

Farmers Market

One of my favorite summer activities is taking a stroll through the Provo Farmers Market with my mom. I can seldom think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning! I love seeing all the locally made products and the local artists, and it’s a great place to get some locally grown produce or honey. There are even food vendors, making it a great place to stop for breakfast or lunch.  One of my favorite finds was a golden raspberry start that I haven’t killed yet, and I should get berries from it this year! From a fun date, to finding good produce for dinner, to selling your wares, the Farmers Market has something to offer for everyone. Check out these farmers market-related books you can find at the library: 

7.30 The Harvest Eating CookbookTHE HARVEST EATING COOKBOOK: MORE THAN 200 RECIPES FOR COOKING WITH SEASONAL LOCAL INGREDIENTS
by Keith Snow
(2009)

Harvest Eating is a lifestyle of using in season, locally grown and raised foods. The idea is to be more sustainable in our food choices and use whole, natural ingredients in cooking. This book contains over 200 recipes that are organized by season to help in buying fresh ingredients. 

 

7.30 Complete Canning GuideCOMPLETE CANNING GUIDE: FREEZING, PRESERVING, DRYING
by Better Homes and Gardens
(2015)

This is a comprehensive food preservation guide. It has instructions for many different food preservations techniques such as canning, drying, fermenting, and pickling. Recipes range from simple to inventive, and will give you all the knowledge you need to preserve your great farmers market finds. 

 

7.30 Animal Vegetable MiracleANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE: A YEAR OF FOOD LIFE
by Barbara Kingsolver
(2007)

When Barbara Kingsolver and her family move to a rural area in Appalachia, they decide to spend a year taking on a new challenge. They will live only on food they can produce themselves or buy from so close to home they would know the person who grew it. From prolific zucchini plants to interesting adventures with turkeys, this book is a great look at how one family succeeded at eating locally. 

 

7.30 Selling your CraftsTHE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO SELLING YOUR CRAFTS
by Chris Franchetti Michaels
(2010)

Online isn’t the only avenue to selling your crafts! This book teaches crafters not only how to find and use different selling outlets, but also how to manage your business, manage inventory, price your goods, and more. This should be a useful reference for selling your goods at a farmers market. 

 

7.30 Growing Organic Vegetables and HerbsSTOREY'S GUIDE TO GROWING ORGANIC VEGETABLES & HERBS FOR MARKET: SITE & CROP SELECTION PLANTING, CARE & HARVESTING BUSINESS BASICS
by Keith Stewart
(2013)

Have you ever thought about becoming a farmer? This book will help you get started with your own farm! It includes instructions for farm equipment, growing crops, harvesting, and marketing your produce. 

 

7.30 Compact FarmsCOMPACT FARMS: 15 PROVEN PLANS FOR MARKET FARMS ON 5 ACRES OR LESS
by Josh Volk
(2017)

Want a market farm but don’t have acres and acres of land? This book has 15 plans for farms on 5 acres of land or less! From the urban rooftop to rural locations, tour these profitable small-scale farms full of tips and resources for planning your own small farm.

 

cooking the books 01

 

In previous Cooking the Books posts, I’ve tackled all the big issues: no time. No ingredients. No self-control. No fat.  No motivation. The anticipation of no motivation. No beef. And just to continue that tradition of hard-hitting journalism that you’ve come to expect from this periodic series reviewing library cookbooks, I decided to tackle a subject I’ve never tackled before: 

Cute. 

“Cute” is not a word I expect to use to describe a cookbook, but it’s what I found while browsing the children’s cookbook section for recipes I could have my son help me make. I decided on COOK ME A RHYME by Bryan Kozlowski, and I was not disappointed. 

Each recipe in this cookbook is based on a nursery rhyme, even down to the steps in the recipe. For example, in the recipe for Sing a Song of Sixpence (Blackberry Sandwich Pies), you slice a banana into six round pieces as you “sing a song of sixpence”, and then roll out a slice of bread for the “pocketful of rye.” Or when making “Cockle Shell Pasta Salad,” you line the “pretty maids” (snap peas) up in a row around the bowl before chilling. I’m going to try to replicate this as I post the recipe, but just know it’s really adorable in the book. This book has full-color illustrations and easy-to-follow directions and its recipes would be perfect for a Mother Goose-themed party. It would also be great to use with a beginning reader, especially if they’re at all familiar with some of these rhymes. 

We have a 6-month-old baby at our house, so we play a lot of “Pat-a-Cake Pat-a-Cake” every day. I decided to recruit my older son to help me make "Mark It With a “B” Breakfast Cake", hoping that the familiar rhyme would prove delightful to him and keep him from asking to watch TV. This only sort of worked, but it was a good effort.

This recipe was incredibly easy; unfortunately, because I let my three-year-old have some input, we made things harder on ourselves. For example, because he was pretending to be a member of the Paw Patrol at the time, my little helper insisted that we cut the puff pastry into dog bone shapes and not the 8-inch circle the recipe indicates. In the end, we had a few circles, a few doggie bones, an actual dog shape, and a heart. All of these small shapes were harder to fill than a regular circle would have been, and it was harder to know if we’d gotten the right ratio of ingredients. They were also harder to seal and baked at different rates, so we ended up with a few underdone pastries and some spilled filling. 

That said, this recipe was easy and yummy, and a bit of underdone pastry didn’t stop us from consuming them all. 

A final note: there is a bit of a copyediting error with this recipe. Though the recipe instructions call for sugar, it’s not mentioned in the ingredients list. I ended up just adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time until the filling tasted good, so we ended up with about six cups of sugar. I jest! It was two tablespoons. You may adjust your own sugar level depending on the sugar content of your raspberry jam and your preference for sweet flavors. 

cook me a rhymeMark It with a “B” Breakfast Cake
From COOK ME A RHYME
by Bryan Kozlowski
(2017) 

 

THIS RHYME NEEDS:

2 (17.3 ounce) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar*
2 teaspoons plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup raspberry jam
2 tablespoons water 

INSTRUCTIONS 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 

1.  Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake...      

Unfold the thawed puff pastry sheets on a cutting board and, one at a time, cut out an 8-inch circle from each sheet. Place one pastry round on a nonstick baking tray and set it aside. 

 

2.  Baker's man...      

To make the baked-in filling, mix the softened cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with a spoon or electric mixer until combined. Add 2 teaspoons of flour and mix it into the cream cheese. 

 

3.  Bake me a cake, as fast as you can...      

Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the middle of the pastry round on the baking tray. Spread the cream cheese evenly with a butter knife, leaving about a 1-inch space around the edge of the pastry. Dot the raspberry jam onto the cream cheese and spread it evenly to the edge of the cream cheese. 

 

4.  Pat it...      

Place the second pastry round over the first, covering the jam and cream cheese. Pat and press the edge of the two pastry rounds together with your fingers to make a thing, tight seal around the crust. 

 

5.  And prick it...      

Using the tip of a small knife, poke about 20 tiny holes into the top of the cake. 

 

6.  And mark it with a B...      

Stir the water and 3 tablespoons of flour in a small bowl until a thick paste forms. Scoop the paste into a small plastic bag, cut a tiny hole in one corner of the bag, and squeeze the paste to form the letter "B" on the top of the cake. 

 

7.  And put it in the oven for baby and me!                  Put the cake into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 17 to 20 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the baking tray from the oven and let the cake cool for 30 minutes before sliving it "for baby and me." 

 

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